Climate change in Nigeria is as disastrous as it is unheard of and of the ten countries considered most threatened by climate change globally, seven are in Africa. Given the recent devastations from flooding, droughts, desertification and conflicts across the continent, African governments have increasingly expressed concern about the impact of climate change. There was also a large African delegation at the Conference of Parties, ‘COP21’ in Paris in 2015, where the Paris Agreement was developed. By April 2016, forty-seven African countries had signed the agreement, committing to take concrete actions to mitigate and adapt to climate change. However, only a few African countries are actively working toward meeting their targets.
Alarmingly, Nigeria was not part of them. Turning a blind eye on this major catastrophe, Lagos, Nigeria, has continued to worsen in climate and increase their carbon emissions - leading to devastating impacts. For example, Nigera experienced heavy rainfall in January 2019, an anomaly as the event occurred during the dry season which typically runs from October through March. Similar changes in traditional seasonal patterns have become more frequent in the past few years. This is only one of the many effects of climate change, a long-term change in seasonal patterns due to an increased accumulation of greenhouse gases released in the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels. We also can see the climate effects through land degradation; approximately 35 percent of land across Nigeria is under threat of desertification especially in the north where land degradation and climate change have exacerbated poverty. For example, Northern Nigeria is under severe threat of desert encroachment with sand dunes becoming common geological features in states like Borno, Jigawa, Katsina, Sokoto and, Yobe, burying large areas of arable lands and grazing rangelands and limiting agricultural production.
In addition, research shows that African countries are disproportionally impacted by climate change given the heavy reliance of their economies on the agriculture sector, which employs two-third of their workforce and accounts for, on average, one-third of their GDP. Countries such as Chad, Niger and Zambia could lose their entire farming sector due to climate change by 2100 . In addition, according to the Department for International Development (DFID), climate change could cost Nigeria, the second largest economy on the continent, between 6-30 percent of its GDP worth $100billion-$460 billion by 20505 .
With just a small show of how detrimental climate change is to Nigeria and the future of our great country, it should be known that if action is not taken now - it will soon be too late. Sadly, as much as it would be great if a sole individual could have major impacts on the mitigation of climate change, it is known that no individual can stop it. Try as you may, we cannot negotiate a settlement with planet Earth. What we can do, however, is work together, as one earth and work together as one country. We must create hope and show determination to act for the climate. The solutions and technologies are well within our reach if we plan, invest decisively, and most importantly, act now, leaving no one behind.
The climate crisis is getting worse by the day, as we face catastrophic extreme weather events all over the world, and especially in Nigeria. Global warming is fast approaching the 1.5 degrees level we have pledged to avoid. This is a tipping point that threatens lives and livelihoods across our sacred country and is determined to disrupt our way of life. If we keep on digging ourselves deeper into the hole that ha been created, there will surely be no way to get out. Now I am not a pessimist, but the true facts of the matter show that the disruptive and increasingly lethal effects of unsustainable production and consumption patterns have started to show its effect. From degraded ecosystems, disappearing forests, and collapsing glaciers to receding shorelines, heatwaves, and floods. If we want future generations to inherit a habitable world, we have to change the paradigm. I know I am still young and unable to do things like run for congress and vote - but I have hope. We can change the fate of climate change in Nigeria and preserve our country for decades to come.
Future Thought Leaders is a democratic space presenting the thoughts and opinions of rising Sustainability & Energy writers, their opinions do not necessarily represent those of illuminem.
Amara Nwuneli is a 15-year old Nigerian-American activist, social innovator, actor, and author. She founded and runs Fight Global Warming Nigeria which works to raise awareness about climate change among youth through interactive workshops, informational videos, and local initiatives. Through her work as a climate activist, she has served as a speaker and youth representative in various forums and has written articles. In addition, she constantly works to address inequality, corruption, and much more.